Ahmed El-Deeb

For millions of years, the Yangtze River in China (the third longest river in the world after the Nile and the Amazon) was home to a wide variety of freshwater species, including 378 known species of fish, the largest of which was a seven-meter long and weighing 450 kilograms, which made it the largest water fish Absolutely fresh and known as the Chinese paddle fish.

And if we are now talking about this giant fish in the past tense, it is because its last confirmed view was in 2003, after which the research campaigns to find one live fish in Yangtze continued to no avail.

That is why its extinction - which estimates say took place between 2005 and 2010 - was announced in a recent study by the "Science of the Total Environment" research team headed by Hui Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in Wuhan.

Human era
The study commented on the possible causes of this unfortunate extinction, saying, "Overfishing and dam construction are behind the extinction of a fish that has lived on Earth for nearly two hundred million years."

This means that the Chinese paddle fish were able to survive without limitation crises and challenges, including the events of the great extinction that killed the dinosaurs and giant marine reptiles about 65 million years ago.

For millions of years, this primitive fish - with its long, beaky beak - changed little, but what changed radically and almost incredibly - especially in recent decades - was the old river, under human rule.

The numbers say that in the seventies of the twentieth century alone, an estimated 25 tons of paddle fish were harvested from the river every year, but in 1981 the construction of the Jezuba Dam, which led to a complete separation of the clans of paddle fish on both sides of the dam, and the complete obstruction of their migratory paths across a stream The river, and therefore its antique lifestyle.

Overfishing and dam construction are behind the extinction of Chinese paddle fish (websites)

Despite the Chinese government's efforts - since the 1980s - to protect it from extinction, paddle fish had lost their ability to reproduce in nature by 1993.

Despite the severe scarcity, the observation of fish did not stop in the 1990s, according to Dr. Zhang - the chief researcher in the study - but the last era of humans with a live Chinese paddle fish was in 2003, when the scientists immediately installed a tracking device in their body, but they completely lost their impact after few hours.

The last flight
Since 2017, the research team led by Dr. Zhang has made every effort to find a live sample, from nets erected everywhere possible, to inspecting the local fish market in search of a fresh body. To finally observe 332 species of the Yangtze River, without finding a single paddle fish, and append to their study with this sad phrase, "Based on these strong indications, the Chinese paddle fish can be almost certainly declared among extinct species."

As a last desperate warning warning to save the remaining other endangered species - such as the Chinese alligators - the Chinese authorities have announced a ten-year hunting ban on these species, covering more than 300 places on the Yangtze River.

The ban, which unfortunately slowed to the moment of the last goodbye to the largest and oldest freshwater fish that has inhabited this great river for millions of years, in a manner that is closer to the phrase that came in the movie "Big Fish" by Tim Burton "The largest fish in the river reaches that position in a way One: It is never held.